Honorary Degree citation: The Honourable Susan Ryan AO

15 December 2017

Chancellor, it is my privilege to present to you for a degree of the University, the Honourable Susan Ryan AO.

Throughout her career, Ms Ryan has been a tireless campaigner for equal opportunities and has been instrumental in the delivery of landmark policy changes, such as the Sex Discrimination Act of 1984.

Ms Ryan has made an exceptional contribution to the advancement of human rights, particularly in the areas of ageing, disability discrimination and equal opportunity.

In 2011, she was appointed Australia's first Age Discrimination Commissioner. She was appointed Disability Discrimination Commissioner in 2014.

As Age Discrimination Commissioner, she was highly effective in drawing attention to the extent of discrimination against older people.

She commissioned pioneering work into ageism and disability discrimination, and conducted the first national inquiry into workplace discrimination against older Australians and Australians with disability.

This resulted in the landmark report, Willing to Work, which set out national strategies to improve the economic participation of Australians as they age and of people with disability.

Earlier in her career, Ms Ryan was a founding member of the Women's Electoral Lobby before completing a Master of Arts in English Literature at ANU in 1973.

She was then elected to the ACT Legislative Assembly in 1974.

In the following year, she was one of the first two senators to be elected to the Federal Parliament from the ACT. She was also the ACT's first female senator and first Labor Senator.

Ms Ryan used the campaign slogan, "A woman's place is in the Senate."

When the Hawke Government was elected in 1983, Ms Ryan became the first woman to hold a cabinet post in a federal Labor government.

She served as Minister for Education and Youth Affairs, Special Minister of State and as the inaugural Minister Assisting the Prime Minister on the Status of Women.

During her term as Minister for Education, school retention rates doubled and universities and TAFE colleges grew significantly, without charging tuition fees.

Following her Ministerial career, Ms Ryan was the Women's Ambassador for ActionAid Australia and chaired the Australian Human Rights Group.

She was also integral to the campaign for an Australian Bill of Rights, and was Deputy Chair of the Australian Republican Movement for three years.

Ms Ryan has served as the Independent Chair of the IAG and NRMA Superannuation Plan, and as CEO of the Association of Superannuation Funds of Australia.

In 1990, Ms Ryan was appointed an Officer of the Order of Australia for her service to parliament.

Chancellor, it is with pleasure that I present to you the Honourable Susan Ryan AO, that you may confer on her the degree of Doctor of Laws honoris causa for her exceptional contribution to the advancement of human rights, particularly in the areas of ageing, disability discrimination and equal opportunity.